All About Symbian - Nokia (S60) and Sony Ericsson (UIQ) smartphones unwrapped

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  #1  
Old 08-08-2007, 08:23 AM
slitchfield slitchfield is offline
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The best way to use an E90 - keep it closed!?

Although the issue of fonts never bothered me, it's sure bothering Ewan. In the second part of his 'E90 out and about at the Fringe' feature, he's found that he prefers to set up application displays to work on the external QVGA screen and then worry about the internal one later.

Read on in the full article.

  #2  
Old 08-08-2007, 08:40 AM
Jejoma Jejoma is offline
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Ewan, these problems sound as if they result from your previous experience with the 9300. I suspect an E90 newbie would never notice them.

  #3  
Old 08-08-2007, 08:51 AM
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Ewan is a splendid one to beholdEwan is a splendid one to beholdEwan is a splendid one to beholdEwan is a splendid one to beholdEwan is a splendid one to beholdEwan is a splendid one to behold
Exactly, and as this is a multiple part series, I'm sure you'll see that come out. BUt you can;t escape that this was marketted as a New Communicator.
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  #4  
Old 08-08-2007, 09:07 AM
krisse krisse is offline
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The keyboard layout does seem a bit odd. If they swapped the d-pad round with the return and backspace keys, it would make a lot more sense.

On almost every keyboard ever made (including the Nokia bluetooth keyboard) the delete key is in the top right hand corner, return key under it and some sort of arrow keys in the bottom right. Seems strange to abandon that convention.


"I just dont think that S60 is up to the job of driving a wide screen with a full qwerty keyboard ... Let’s take writing a document using the Quickoffice software ... And again, the S60 UI is trying to help me. While the auto-shifting of characters after a full stop is useful with keypad input, it’s just annoying on the full keyboard"

Are you sure you mean S60? It sounds like the third party developers behind Quickoffice just haven't yet adapted their application properly to the E90 hardware, which isn't necessarily anything to do with the UI itself.
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Last edited by krisse; 08-08-2007 at 09:17 AM.

  #5  
Old 08-08-2007, 09:48 AM
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What's the point in purchasing the E90 if not for the inside part?
If you only use the outside I would suggest one of the many other phones on the marked that are smaller.

  #6  
Old 08-08-2007, 10:25 AM
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I'm more and more interested (and more and more cautious?) in experiencing this device for myself. I haven't had a Communicator before, from 'dummy phones' I moved to s60 and then straight to s60 3rd ed with the E70. I was hoping that s60's 176x208 standard screen is going to swift to 352*416 as the new standard (seemed to make sense with the same screen ratio but 4 times the detail) but not much after getting to phone (and my hopes high) QVGA became the standard receiving stronger software (mainly java games though, but still) support.

it will be interesting to see how many developers will opt for using only the external screen of the E90 and just put a 'Please close the phone' message on the internal screen or use the top left 240*320 pixels only if you try to use the same software on the wide screen.

  #7  
Old 08-08-2007, 10:29 AM
NickAnstee NickAnstee is offline
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Ewan,

My experience of the E90 seems to be the opposite of yours. I have owned Psion, Palm, Windows CE, Windows Mobile and Sharp Zaurus devices. But I can honestly say that the E90 is the best device that I have owned. You seem to be spitting the dummy out about minor points that took me about 3 seconds to live with and forgetting the amazing browsing experience and quickoffice document handling. Not to mention the great camera and GPS etc etc. I find the E90 quick, stable, well engineered and great battery life. The only real beef I have is email, but for that I use Profimail. It seems to me the S60 email client is well overdue an overhaul before these minor points, it doesn't handle IMAP properly.

  #8  
Old 08-08-2007, 10:31 AM
krisse krisse is offline
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--I was hoping that s60's 176x208 standard screen is going to swift to 352*416 as the new standard (seemed to make sense with the same screen ratio but 4 times the detail) but not much after getting to phone (and my hopes high) QVGA became the standard receiving stronger software (mainly java games though, but still) support.--

As I understand it, moving to QVGA was because of the general direction the whole electronics industry was taking. Nowadays, far more devices use QVGA displays than 352*416, so QVGA displays are much cheaper and higher quality. Nokia isn't the only manufacturer in the world, and everyone else is using QVGA, so they might have felt they had to tag along.

It might also be intended to help developers: if you've done an application for non-S60 QVGA devices, it's easier to port to an S60 device if that's QVGA too.

I think the S60.com blog once had a posting saying that S60 3rd can be used with any resolution, but they now officially encourage manufacturers to use VGA-based resolutions like QVGA, HVGA or VGA. The manufacturers can do what they like though, as shown by the non-VGA resolutions in the 5500 and E90.
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Last edited by krisse; 08-08-2007 at 10:34 AM.

  #9  
Old 08-08-2007, 10:42 AM
martinharnevie martinharnevie is offline
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I had the opportunity to play around with the E90 recently. I must say I 100% agree with Ewan.

Not that the 9300i keyboard is perfect at all. The comma and full stop buttons are in the wrong place, the Menu button should intuitively be near the root of the Menu (the 5mx had it to the left with an additional option to use a silkscreen button immediately at the root of the Menu), a calculator cannot possibly be anything near useful if the +-×and ÷ are anything else accessible by single key-press, the CAPS button is too near the 'A' button etc etc etc...

At least the 9300i is bearable. My about 40 minutes trying various things with the E90 made me conclude that this is an excellent looking device with heaps of attractive features.

But the attempt to stretch S60 into realms it was never designed for shows through in numerous plain annoying ways.
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  #10  
Old 08-08-2007, 10:51 AM
krisse krisse is offline
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"But the attempt to stretch S60 into realms it was never designed for shows through in numerous plain annoying ways."

I hear people say this a lot about the E90, but then what they actually complain about is usually nothing to do with S60.

Things like the keyboard design are hardware issues, and things like the lack of fax support or auto-shift in Quickoffice are application issues. Neither of these is a User Interface issue, and S60 is just a user interface.

We shouldn't confuse a hardware design department with a UI design department. S60 provides a platform, but it doesn't decide how manufacturers choose to build on that platform. S60 don't decide which apps are bundled, and they don't decide how the hardware is laid out either.

I'm not defending the E90, I'm just saying if you're going to blame someone it's important to make sure it's the right people you're blaming. Otherwise, none of these problems will ever be solved.
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Last edited by krisse; 08-08-2007 at 10:56 AM.

  #11  
Old 08-08-2007, 11:51 AM
svdwal svdwal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krisse View Post
"But the attempt to stretch S60 into realms it was never designed for shows through in numerous plain annoying ways."

I hear people say this a lot about the E90, but then what they actually complain about is usually nothing to do with S60.

Things like the keyboard design are hardware issues, and things like the lack of fax support or auto-shift in Quickoffice are application issues. Neither of these is a User Interface issue, and S60 is just a user interface.
But the User Interface does impose constraints on the hardware. Take the dedicated menu key for example. Because S60 is designed as having a single menu hanging of the options key, it doesn't make much sense to add a special menu key to the querty keyboard. If there was a special menu key, it would make sense to use the Options button for a command. Just as if the E90 would have two command buttons, instead of 4 command buttons as on the 9500/9300 and older Communicators.

This is also not the way a UI is designed. People take a certain kind of hardware in mind (lets say a T9 keyboard, some dedicated hardware buttons and a small screen) and come up with a UI that's much like S60 (or UIQ!). Such UI's are optimised for this particular kind of hardware.

With different hardware (a full querty keyboard and a big screen) you get a different UI, that's optimised for that particular kind of hardware. Examples are the old Psion UI and the Communicator/S80 UI, or all the desktop computer UI's.

Retrofitting a UI on hardware it wasn't designed for brings to light the optimisation problems. The move from S80 to S60 for the communicator is a very good example here, because both UI's are based on the Uikon UI framework. For example:

1) As S60 doesn't support shortcuts, the shortcuts field in the menu item data structure has been shortened to a single character. This saves lots of memory on normal S60 hardware, but doesn't make sense when you have a full querty keyboard.

2) S60 soft keys (Options/Back/Exit etc) are using the same Uikon mechanism as the S80 command buttons. So one can think of the Options button as a popup menu hanging of the topmost button of a Communicator. Using a command button for the menu saves a dedicated menu key, and using softkeys as Uikon command buttons saves programming, but when the hardware could easily support a menu key, having the same menu from a command button doesn't make good use of that key. So the menu key is dropped.

3) With S60 moving towards using 3 softkeys in S60 FP2, you get nearer to the situation on the 7710, which has three command buttons, and a dedicated menu key. Imagine a E90-like device with three hardware softkeys next to the internal screen. That's almost a 7710.

4) Zooming. Not much of a use on a small screen, but can be very convenient on a bigger screen. S60 never had zooming (UIQ, which is targetted at the same screen sizes as S60 has three defined zoomlevels), S80 always had dedicated zoom keys.

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  #12  
Old 08-08-2007, 11:52 AM
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The 'auto shift' isn't native to quickoffice, it is in all s60 phones, in messaging for example.

If you type a . (full stop) s60 will automatically 'auto shift' to make the next letter uppercase.

As Evan says, fine on a keypad, can be a pain in the arse on a full keyboard.
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  #13  
Old 08-08-2007, 11:58 AM
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That seems to be stretching the point a little bit Krisse.

Okay, the hardware is down to Nokia, I'll give you that. But to suggest there is no link between the UI and the software is rather over-simplifying things. For a start, the standards laid out in the design guide for the UI tell the software developers how things should work, how they should look etc. It's the UI that determines where the menu's are, how they work, the file structure etc. S60 has a massive impact on the design and interface of the software written for it.

And, in any case, if a software feature works well with all the other S60 devices, but not the E90, then doesn't that illustrate Ewan's point perfectly? To resolve that problem would require the software developers to either produce a E90 specific version of their software, or include code in the software to detect that it's running on an E90 and then behave differently. Which is precisely the opposite of what S60 sets out to do - i.e. one platform that allows software writers to produce one product that works the same on all S60 compliant hardware.

If you have to write an E90 version of your software then you take away the main benefit of having one UI and you'r back with the argument that they should have stuck with the old OS.
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  #14  
Old 08-08-2007, 11:59 AM
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a very good machine

After two weeks of using the e90 (and I consider my-self a power user), I can agree with NickAnstee.

The device is great, although I admitt there are some drawbacks, but - given all the benefits thereof - one can easily live with them...

Borys

  #15  
Old 08-08-2007, 12:38 PM
martinharnevie martinharnevie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krisse View Post
Things like the keyboard design are hardware issues. Neither of these is a User Interface issue, and S60 is just a user interface.
We shouldn't confuse a hardware design department with a UI design department.
That's incorrect. A hardware is design is closely intertwined with UI design. They cannot live separate lives. The UI determines the number of and functions of command buttons. The UI determines the real estate of the screen which is optimised for certain screen sizes.

Furthermore, with regards to applications, a certain version of a certain UI will by default have a certain number of applications which are optimised and tested for this UI. Hence we cannot disentangle applications from the UI either, which in turn cannot be disentangled from the hardware. If one has to do a number of keypresses to adjust fonts (as per Ewan's review) everytime one changes from the outer screen to the inner screen, this is a clear example of annoying sideeffects of stretching S60 into realms it wasn't designed for.

Maybe these will be fixed one day, in either new firmware versions or hardware versions or both.
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